An epidemic of extreme hypocrisy
Updated: Mar 5
It has been said that hypocrisy is "the natural scent of politics". However I prefer to identify it as "...a stench that pervades much of what is said and policy that is enacted. There are two particular types – the hypocrisy where politicians pretend they care about something and then do nothing, and the one where they pretend to think something and do the opposite." (The Guardian, 15 February 2020)
Any one with a modicum of intelligence can recognise hypocrisy when they see it, or hear it. Teenagers, for example, call out the hypocrisy of their cigarette-smoking parents who insist "thou shalt not smoke". Even younger children know when something is not right. A child who wrote to Jimmy Lai when he was incarcerated during legal proceedings for allegedly violating the National Security Law (NSL), was even able to ask "...Why the government is so bad to us?"
People in Hong Kong (HK) recognise the hypocrisy of legislators who talk about having loyalty to China and to CCP, who even swear oaths of allegiance, all the while owning property and business interests in foreign lands - frequently sending their kids for university education overseas and sometimes even retaining their pathway to foreign passports or citizenship.
The important thing is that some people in high places KNOW they are being duplicitous and try to hide it.
When hypocrisy is challenged, do those people acknowledge their words and actions are out of step, and then make appropriate amends?
Officials in the HK government have in recent history taken much delight in pointing out the contradiction between the goals of pro-democracy demonstrators' who call for freedom and an inquiry into police violence on the one hand, while some protesters on the other hand are seen restricting people's freedom of movement with street blockades and acting out violence of their own. Case in point: the Pro-democracy protesters who besieged the international airport, and attacked a mainland journalist after taking him hostage.
Fu Guohao was taken away on a stretcher after being assaulted by protesters at Hong Kong’s international airport in August 2019. Credit...Lam Yik Fei for The New York Times
In response to the backlash from angry travellers at the time, and the cries of hypocrisy, the protesters apologised for their action at the airport and changed strategy.
There is no intention here to open old wounds, or to embarrass the protest movement. Facts are facts, and the truth will always bring us strength.
Maybe some people went too far. Maybe protester's emotions got the better of them. We should remember the context of the airport protest and the events that had preceded it. The people who chose to make their protest, did so for what they felt was good reason. Although people demonstrating were variously called 'rioters', most protesters were resolutely peaceful, non-violent and there was never any looting, or use of fire-arms.
While the protest movement in HK has recognised its fault, matured, and moved on, there is no sign of any concession on the part of HK and mainland authorities who are as indignant and entrenched as ever.
Despite evidence to the contrary. the HK government itself has not and will not concede that there is anything systemically wrong with their governance of the city. Similarly, it backs up the HK Police who resolutely claim they are restrained in their use of force against protesters.
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"...a hypocrisy and an imposition."
Speaking after announcing the government move to ban the HK National Party in 2018, the Security Chief John Lee spoke on the existing limits to freedom of assembly in the SAR.
“I understand residents are concerned about freedom of assembly. I want to stress that Hong Kong residents have freedom of assembly, but this freedom is not without limits,”
Other critics of the HK protest movement have decried the protesters for insisting on freedom that came at the expense of others: "Protesters are betraying the very foundation upon which their actions are being justified. When the pursuit of freedom is turned from normal [civil] disobedience into a disruption to the entire society and to other people's freedom, it becomes a hypocrisy and an imposition." (CGTN, 9 August 2019)
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Xi strikes a resounding note of hypocrisy
In late January 2021 China's Emporer Xi Jinping spoke virtually (or was that virtually spoke, or even virtuously?] at the Davos global economic forum. He clearly sees the link between politics and economics. Among the key points he stated as reported by the Mail Online were:
'To build small cliques or start a new Cold War, to reject, threaten or intimidate others... will only push the world into division.'.... and Xi said confrontation 'will always end up harming every nation's interests and sacrificing people's welfare'...
While Xi may have had the confrontational politics of Joe Biden's predecessor in mind, it's nothing short of hypocritical to rally against aggression, when China's airforce are intentionally flying sorties for the purposes of spying and intimidation.
China has a very clear ongoing record of saying one thing while doing another!
China planes 'violated Taiwanese airspace', (BBC News, 27 August 2014)
China flew nuclear-capable bombers around Taiwan before Trump call with Taiwanese president, (Fox News, 12 January 2017)
China's Military Enters Japan and Taiwan Air Zones, Says 'Get Used to It' (Newsweek, 14 July 2017)
China’s Jets that Crossed into Taiwan Airspace: Not a First; Maybe not the Last, (VOA, 3 April 2019)
China flies nuclear-capable bombers, fighter jets over Taiwanese waters, (ABC News, 23 January 2021)
Nuclear-capable H-6K bombers like this have been involved in Chinese missions into its neighbour's airspace.
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Of course politicians in the U.S.A., Australia, the U.K., Germany, Russia and elsewhere are as capable of hypocrisy as much as those in China or HK are, but that doesn't mean it should ever be condoned, or accepted as the normal way to conduct ourselves and our business.
Hypocrisy in HK Department of Justice
According to Wikipedia, Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah GBSSCJP (Chinese: 鄭若驊; born 11 November 1958) is a Hong Kong Senior Counsel, arbitrator and politician. She has been the Secretary for Justice of Hong Kong since 6 January 2018.
Her work has not always found favour with the citizens to whom she serves.
In 2018 hundreds thought they could smell a rat, and many protested the decision made by the Secretary for Justice not to prosecute HK’s former chief executive Leung Chun-ying for corruption and misconduct in public office. Among the complaints and criticisms several legislators asked why the Secretary had not sought independent legal advice, and refrained from giving the public further explanation. The DoJ’s decision was met with a growing list of critics, including a former top prosecutor, the chair of ICAC’s advisory committee and representatives of the Bar Association.
One critic writing in HKFreePress expressing dissatisfaction with Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah, said she is "an abomination," that "should be axed" (HKFP, 5 October 2019)
Another critique of the Secretary of Justice and her apparent DOUBLE STANDARDS appeared in a Letter to the Editor published in SCMP (27 January 2021):
"Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah was outraged at the withdrawal of British Queen's Counsel David Perry from his appointment to lead the prosecution case against nine high-profile members of the community, including several with long and distinguished track records as lawmakers and social activists ("London attacks on barrister in Jimmy Lai case 'disgraceful': Hong Kong justice chief", SCMP January 20)....
....Her reaction demonstrated, yet again, how double standards increasingly prevail at the upper levels of our government....
...Back on December 27, the People's Daily launched a disgraceful attack on the decision by a justice of the High Court to grant bail to Jimmy Lai Chee-ying. Mrs Cheng remained tight-lipped, despite representations from local legal professionals urging her to defend the city's judiciary against accusations levelled by state media...
...It is therefore a bit much for Mrs Cheng now to lambast British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab's exercise of his right to free speech, by voicing his strong distaste for Mr Perry's decision to take up the case."
(Elizabeth Bosher, Discovery Bay)
Never mind the hypocrisy! According to Tim Hallet writing in HK Free Press ("A lawyer not coming to Hong Kong, a law not enforced", 23 January 2021) the Justice Secretary can't even get her facts straight about the particular statute relevant to the prosecution case in question: either it is the National Security Law, or it is the Public Order Ordinance. Does the Secretary understand the difference or even care about the implications for the people she intends to prosecute with the full force of the law (when any old law will do!) ?
In December 2020 the Secretary of Justice decided to follow the axiom that "might is right", and in a media conference declared that HK people had to listen to her as the sole arbiter of the law in HK. (Public must hear my perpetual truths: Teresa Cheng - RTHK, 16 December 2020). Her comments came after public disquiet over apparent discrepancies in sentencing that had delivered a three month jail term for a man who stabbed former lawmaker Leung Kwok-hung, while a graphic designer who hit a policeman with an umbrella got five months in jail, and a student caught in possession of aerosol cans and lighters was imprisoned for 10 months. Cheng said that even though it often can't comment on particular court cases, the Department of Justice has a duty to come out and "put the facts right" when individuals and the media misreport matters relating to the judiciary.
We anxiously wait to hear from the secretary. What organisation specifically is the HK version of Q-Anon? What specific lies are being perpetrated and as one from the legal fraternity, where's your counter-evidence?
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After CCP's imposition of its NSL in HK in June 2020 Britain was prompted to offer refuge from January 31 2021 to almost three million residents of the SAR who are eligible for its special British National Overseas (BNO) passport. BNO status was originally created by Britain in 1987 specifically for HK residents.
Expressing its displeasure at the UK gesture to offer refuge to people fleeing HK, China's central government and the HK government hit back at the UK visa change, saying that from the same date they would no longer recognise the BNO passport as a valid travel document.
UK criticized for suddenly breaking BNO passport promise
"The central government's top body overseeing Hong Kong affairs voiced strong objections on Sunday to the United Kingdom for breaking its promise on the British National Overseas passport with a plan to grant BNO passport holders UK citizenship.
The Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council said in a statement that the UK has clearly violated its pledge as made in a memorandum before the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region's return to China.
The office said the Chinese and British governments reached consensus long ago on how to deal with the issue of Hong Kong residents holding BNO passports and exchanged memoranda on the understanding in 1984...."
So, Britain BROKE ITS PROMISE, did it?
In a blog post made on the eve of changes to the UK's visa application program that allow HK residents who hold a BNO passport to live, study and work in Britain for five years and eventually apply for citizenship, Secretary Cheng echoed the sentiments of her CCP counterparts against the British offer to the people of HK.
Cheng cited former Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China in HK, Xie Feng, as saying "the UK has no sovereignty, jurisdiction or right of 'supervision' over Hong Kong whatsoever after the latter returned to China" under the Joint Declaration. (Yahoo! news, 30 January 2021)
She also said in her blog that people should understand that the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration had no clause that provided for British rights or obligations to HK after the handover. She referred to a 2008 quote from former UK attorney general Lord Goldsmith that said giving BNO holders full British citizenship could be a breach of the declaration. Backing up the thrust of Central government the Secretary for Justice, said that the SAR government will cooperate with any countermeasures brought in by Beijing against London's BNO policies. (RTHK, 30 January 2021)
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The Pot calling the Kettle 'Black'
Of course being the Secretary of Justice does endow the lady with certain rights to speak, and there is an expectation that her comments might be reported in local media. Cheng is a fine example, if ever there was one, of the extent and reach of this epidemic of hypocrisy. Sane voices would realise that HK citizens or passport holders have both the right to choose where they live, and the right to leave HK if they so choose. (And these are both documented rights, not just empty assertions!)
Has Cheng ever thought to consider explaining, bolstering or upholding other key ordinances in HK? The Basic Law, or the HK Bill of Rights? Many lawyers and respected international human rights bodies will tell you that basic human rights in the SAR are being disrespected and eroded under her watch. Even rapporteurs for the United Nations (see below) have much to say about matters in HK, yet Cheng remains silent! It's no surprise that some people have coined a new name for the DOJ - The Department of Injustice.
The Joint Declaration, which on the face of it, she so earnestly wishes to uphold has been breached by CCP more than once in recent years. She speaks out against the British, but not against the encroachment or the legal manipulations of state government. This is not the space to go into details of those breaches but much has been written on the matter (see references below). The HK government of which she is a key member has failed miserably in its duty to protect the people of the SAR from the cult politics of the CCP. It has not acted at the gate-keeper to block the advances of an overly-sensitive, authoritarian bureaucracy across the border
The CCP wants to have their cake and eat it too!
Even as far bask as 2014 CCP officials began spinning the narrative that the Joint Declaration was an irrelevant historical document ("Does China Think the Sino-British Joint Declaration Is Void?" Foreign Policy, 18 December 2014). However, the UK government and others have stuck with the legal agreement that was formally lodged with the UN back when it was countenanced and unequivocally written down on paper.
Now, when it suits the current invective, Cheng and the CCP say the UK is breaching the Joint Declaration...and they don't blink an eye to even reflect on how their own behaviour has also impacted life in HK.
How dare they point their finger, while they themselves have reduced autonomy in the SAR, impacted stability in the city, undermined the standing of the judiciary, corrupted the stature and legitimacy of governance in HK, dragged down the HK Police force with its systemic brutality, and allowed gross injustice and inequalities to be inflicted upon the people of the city legally expressing their discontent with matters of its democratic governance.
Cheng, like other half-mad elites embedded in the current HK legislature, may THINK they have law and ethics on their side, but unprincipled hypocrisy has no place in democracy. The majority of HK people are not fools, and both CCP and its minions WILL BE JUDGED by their behaviour.
The CCP and HK government illegally enacted the NSL with effect on 1 July 2020. According to the UK government this is their third breach of the Joint Declaration. We are now living under CCP's rule BY law and not according to the agreed rule OF law. What toppled ex-US President Donald J. Trump was his insurrection: what will topple CCP and their HK government minions is their breaches of international treaties including the Joint Declaration.
HK protesters who are also widely referred to a 'freedom fighters' are seeking to uphold the Joint Declaration - there is therefore no substantial hypocrisy in the HK protest movement that upholds the rule OF law! One day soon, however, the law will finally catch up with the hypocrites whose dishonesty and treachery harms us all and weakens the democracy we love.
I am confident that history is unlikely to forget whenever a politician puts their foot wrong.
It's never too late to acknowledge a mistake or to mend your ways.
If you're lucky, people of HK may show their forgiving hearts.
‘Double standards and hypocrisy’: Hong Kong gov’t rebukes foreign criticism over national security law plan, (Hong Kong Free Press, 25 May 2020)
CCP please answer the following UN letters sent to you:
Please also read some of our other relevant blogs: